BYC Member Interview - microchick

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, May 22, 2019.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Tipperary, Ireland
    Becky, known to BYC members as microchick, has been a member of our community since December, 2014. One of our BYC Friends, she will often be found hanging out in the The Old Folks Home.

    1. Tell us a bit more about yourself. (Family, hobbies, whatever personal stuff you feel like sharing)

    Hi everyone. First off I'm so honored and flattered to be asked to do this interview. Thank you. Now. Back to the regularly scheduled interview.

    I was born and raised in central Illinois 65 years, soon to be 66 years ago. Did the regular things, grade school, high school (hated it) nursing school (loved it). Graduated from nursing school in 1975 (told y'all I'm old). Fast forward to 2005 when I met my future husband and moved to western Illinois. We married in 2007. I started my nursing career in OB medicine, ended it working with him in his optometric practice as office nurse and office manager. To this day I say they were the best 7 years of my career as an LPN.

    No kids, no step kids. All of our children have fur and feathers.

    We retired in 2014 and made a permanent move to Macon county in northeastern Missouri. We had bought an Amish homestead in 2009 with retirement in mind. For almost 5 years we commuted the 300 mile round trip between home and work, slowly unAmishing the property and for 3 years lived off grid....which really isn't all it's cracked up to be BTW. Getting back to nature is great until you need to figure out a way to charge your cell phone. Or the temperature is 106 and then Mr Electricity becomes your friend that you can live without but you suddenly don't want to. The day we had electricity hooked in the first thing my husband turned on was the air conditioning

    In spite of the hot summers, icey winter's and things that either bite you, sting you or give you a rash, we love our adopted state, and love our 29 acre farm and most of all, we love retirement.

    Our Amish Homestead. It looks a LOT different now, 10 years later. Note the Amish buggy near the front door.

    Besides keeping my chickens, I love gardening, art, cycling, trail riding dirt bikes and jogging. I also enjoy quilting. Some of the activities are not exactly senior citizen hobbies but I intend not to age gracefully.

    One of the big interests in my history is our involvement in Speed bike racing. Speed bikes are those completely enclosed, low to the ground bikes that look like the fuselage to a jet plane. The pilot/rider is sealed inside the fairing, launched by hand and pedals the bike as fast as he or she can.

    My husband had just bought a speed bike when we first met and had already secured a world record that stood for over 5 years when a woman rider/pilot pedaled the bike to over 66 miles per hour at battle mountain.

    We traveled to Arizona twice to participate in one hour challenges at the Nissan Test Track in southern AZ. The pilot there was a very talented British rider who secured two UK world records.

    You can see photos from all three races at:

    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    When we retired it took us something like two and a half years to empty out our second home, shut down the office, empty everything out, disperse what we didn't want or need and move everything left west. Neither of us had family close enough to help us and our friends were all our age or older. Everyone else stopped answering their phones when our number popped up, lol. When it was getting close to having the job done to the point that we weren't having to drive back to IL twice a week, I started talking to DH about getting some animals for our farm. I wanted a horse. I had horses in my life when I was in my 20s and for years my mantra had been "when I'm retired" but I'd begun to have problems with my joints, particularly my back and in reality I knew that it wasn't going to happen. Cows? Nah. We knew people back in IL that had almost been killed by cattle. Goats...well I'm still holding out on that one but in the meantime Chickens! I needed me some Chickens!

    The most important advice I was given long ago about retirement was 'Have LOT'S of hobbies and stay active". Staying active was never a problem for me, but where we live, it's hard to cycle, which was our main exercise activity and hobby back in IL. I needed a hobby that would make me drag my backside out of the house no matter what the weather was, make me throw on 18 layers of clothes in the winter and brave the 106 degree temps in the summer and force me to go outside for fresh air. Going out when it is nice is no problem but nasty weather? Face it, we all need motivation when it comes to that. I figured chickens would do that for me. So in March of 2015 I bought my original flock of 12 fuzzy butted adorable chicks home. There were 8 Buff Orpingtons and 4 Welsummers in that flock.

    Homecoming day. We all have been there and done that. So exciting bringing those first chicks home.


    About a month later, not so little any more.


    From that point on I learned the true meaning of Chicken Math.

    3. Which aspect(s) of chicken keeping do you enjoy the most?

    Now that I've delved into it, I'd have to say incubator hatching. My husband presented me with a Brinsea mini-echo two years ago for Christmas and I hatched my first 11 bantam cross eggs in it the following March. I instantly discovered that I'm definitely more dependable than a broody hen. Those eggs were turned regularly, babied, candled, talked to, fussed over, clucked at and when hatching time came, I paced the floor over them, even overnight waiting for that first pip to arrive and chick to pop out of the shell.


    Turtle who got his name from the egg shell he kept on his back for about 3 hours after hatching.

    4. Which members of your flock, past and present, stand out for you and why?

    A few really stand out. When I was in my pre teens I had a small flock. My parents had been given a little buff Cochin rooster Little Red, his hen of undetermined heritage. She was a feather footed splash and very little named Maxine. There was also a big white leghorn hen named Henrietta. Henrietta would ride on the handlebars of my bike and Red and Maxine were a pair. Maxi always had a line of chicks following her and Red was always waddling along in attendance. He would come up to me and scold me and peck at my toes. I'd pick him up, look him in the eye and tell him to 'stop that!'. Set him back down on the ground and give his bottom a little push in Maxine's direction. He was a character and unfortunately I don't have any pictures of them.

    Currently I would have to say the ones that stick with me the most are the ones that I have lost to Marek's disease. I loved every one of them and shed tears when they either died or when I had to put them down. Red, named after Little Red, J.R., Red's son who would ride around on my shoulders as I did nightly chores. Sassy who raised two clutches of chicks and who died last summer from MD/ocular Marek's, then this past March, Sparkle who lost her battle with the disease. Buddy and Larry Bird, Buddy a beautiful Buff Orpington rooster that if he were human would need a really good psychologist and Larry Bird. A drop dead gorgeous Lavender Orpington with a nasty temper but who was so beautiful all was forgiven. I've lost close to 40 birds to MD and I'll never forget any of them.

    J.R. Red's son who used to fly up and sit on my back while I did evening chores. My husband christened him my chicken parrot.

    Larry Bird who was supposed to be a hen.

    Big Red. He was a sweetheart and the first to die from Marek's disease.

    Sweet Sassy with her first brood of chicks.

    Of my survivors. Twonky, my alpha rooster and one of the first I hatched in my Brinsea, who is a character and so is his co-alpha, Old Man who is only three years old but who has a bit of Cochin in him and tends to waddle around like a senior citizen. Betty, who is an excellent broody hen and mamma....Timmy, a big chicken in a small package who always has only about half of his feathers thanks to his scrappy nature. The three little Silver Duckwing OEGB roosters who think they rule the roost. Pixie the little hen that likes to dive bomb me when I come into the coop, flying down from the roost bar to hopefully land on my head. She seldom hits the mark. I could go on and on having almost 70 birds right now. Basically they are all my favorites. Each has its own personality and traits.

    Twonky in full crow mode.

    5. What was the funniest (chicken related) thing(s) that happened to you in your years as chicken owner?

    Oh whow. There are so many. Chickens are just so naturally entertaining. If you work around them any time at all you slowly realize that they have their own complex little society existing within our own.

    One thing that sticks in my memory was the day I decided to rotate roosters in my bantam pen. Twonky is a great rooster. Friendly, great with the hens, tolerant with the juvenile roosters, all in all the perfect flock leader but I wanted to let another rooster have control of the flock for a few weeks. I caught Twonk and put him in the bachelor pen and had no sooner turned away before I heard this really heartbreaking sound come from the bachelor pen. I turned around and there was Twonky, pacing back and forth by the fence, looking at his hens and just crying his heart out. It wasn't any chicken sound I had ever heard before. Just this low, guttural heartfelt moaning noise that almost made me cry. In fact, I think I did tear up as I went into the bachelor pen, picked up Twonk and carried him back to the hens that he loved, promising him I would never separate him from them again. And I haven't.

    Probably one of the funniest things I've seen my birds do was when I had separated a little bantam cross rooster from the main flock due to him being bullied. I temporarily dumped him in with the large breed birds knowing the rooster there was bantam friendly. I had no sooner set him down when the little devil singled out a Welsummer hen, easily 5 times larger than he is and jumped on her back determined to 'have his way' with her. I looked in the coop hearing the ruckus and here was this little pound and a half, if that, rooster standing on this 5+ pound hens back hanging onto her with a beak full of neck feathers and she, having realized that she had the upper hand with the situation, continued to walk around the coop with the little guy on her back happily scratching for tidbits in the bedding. She was totally ignoring his presence. I had to laugh and say 'Ride 'em Cowboy!'. The name stuck. But Cowboy didn't. I finally rescued him from his wild ride or rescued the hen depending on how you look at it.

    Then there is the bantam cross rooster who got the name 'Little ummmm, how do I delicately say this Little S***' due to the fact that when he was a juvenile, he would break out of the main run to consort with the standard sized hens. He loved them. I would have to catch him three times a day at least and put him back where he belonged. Each time he would have fewer feathers from fighting with the roosters in the other pens and impressively enough, whipping them. I finally looked at him one day, almost bald, ugly as sin and said 'You little s---! Why won't you stay where you belong?' Once again the name stuck. LS finally accepted the bantam cross hen coop as where he needed to be but it wasn't without a lot of catches and releases. He still has bald spots from fighting but roosters will be roosters.

    6. Beside chickens, what other pets do you keep?

    We have 5 cats, Johnny Cash, Ruger, June, Gem and Camo. Johnny Cash is half Siamese and diabetic. He is also 18 years old and still going strong thanks to the carb free food we found called Forever Young. DH discovered the food on line when Cash failed to respond to insulin injections and we started him on the specially formulated food. Within a week he was off insulin with normal blood sugars.

    Gem and Johnny Cash our 18 year old diabetic kitty.

    Ruger disappeared for one month and miraculously showed up no worse for the wear a month later. She'd only lost an ounce and had developed a taste for earthworms.

    Buck and Spot are Brother and sister strays that showed up at our gate when they were 8 weeks old. Covered with cow flop and mud, dumped and adorable. She is Border Collie and Jack Russell and he is Border Collie and hound cross. Mom was a party animal.

    Spot and Buck on their way for their first vet visit. 2 months old.

    Then we have just rescued and adopted 5 Australian Cattle Dog/Red Heeler pups from a wanna be Amish puppy mill near us. They were feeding these adorable 3 month old pups mud covered pups dead goat and raw rabbit. We were shocked into action and when all was said and done, we were 25$ poorer and richer beyond imagination as we drove those 5 pups home in our van.

    Last December we lost our beloved Blue Heeler, Dingo to Degenerative Myelopathy (ALS in humans) I said he left such a big hole in our hearts that it took 5 pups to fill it. Sidney, Roxie, Bentley, Varn and Diesel are keeping us on the move but we are enjoying every minute of watching them grow from pups to miniature cattle dogs.

    Our Dingo before DM ravaged his body.

    4 of 5 little Heelers. Roxie and Diesel in the front and Syd and Varn in the back

    And #5 Little Bentley aka Ben napping under the island.

    We make it a rule never to turn away an animal in need. If there is room in your heart there is room in your home.

    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    Only to say how much I've come to respect the vast repository of knowledge that is here on BYC and how much I value the friendships I have made here.

    I am always impressed that when I am having a problem with one of my chickens and do a google search, Backyard Chickens is the first thing that pops up.

    No matter how many times the same problem is encountered (it's always new to the person with the problem) members are eager and willing to step in and offer help, whether it's to a newby chicken keeper or the battle scarred experience flock keeper. It's really a truly amazing forum.

    I usually hang out on The Old Folks thread. It's so nice to connect with the 'mature' members there. And I make it a point to try to respond to threads where members are afraid that they have Marek's disease in their flocks. It's so devastating and more frequently occuring than flock keepers realize. I am also working on an article concerning my experiences with the disease over the past 3 plus years in what spare time I have which means I may have it finished by 2025.

    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
  2. LaurEliz

    LaurEliz Songster

    Apr 8, 2018
    Central Illinois
    My Coop
    Nice to meet you! I loved all the pictures you posted!

    I am also born and raised in Central Illinois... but I'm still here! I think incubating is one of my favorite parts of chicken keeping too. It's so exciting!
  3. N F C

    N F C Oh no Mr. Bill!

    Dec 12, 2013
    Thanks for an interesting and enjoyable interview! Your farm sounds a fun, lively place :D Loved the pictures...thanks for sharing with all of us!
  4. Chick-N-Fun

    Chick-N-Fun Almy Acres Farm

    Jun 26, 2014
    Corning, NY
    Great Interview! :thumbsup
  5. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Wonderful interview! So nice to learn more about you. Love all the photos and story, thank you for sharing:)
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Great interview...I love your pictures and the Heelers were my favourite...:frow
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Thanks for a great interview. 'Courageous' describes anyone who rescues and keeps 5 heeler pups at the same time. They will make life interesting.
  8. microchick

    microchick Crossing the Road

    Thanks everyone! Really appreciated. I love BYC and it was a pleasure to do the interview and let folks get to know me a little better.

    @sourland thank you. I think masochistic is a more appropriate description though. Those 5 are a handful and then some but we are loving every minute of watching them grow up. Such eager to please, eager to learn and intelligent little dogs. We have no regrets at all.

    @LaurEliz Another Illinois native! We get back every now and then. DH and I lived in western IL where his practice was. I really miss the paved roads there. It made cycling so much fun. Here in MO, all the side roads are graveled. Only state and major county roads are paved. We also miss the people. Illinoisans are such nice folks.
  9. CapricornFarm

    CapricornFarm Chicken Tender

    Feb 1, 2010
    Southern Virginia
    Super interview, well written! And very interesting.
  10. Bamabexchicks

    Bamabexchicks Crossing the Road

    Oct 30, 2018
    East central Alabama
    Hey Bex! Great read! Very much enjoyed your interview and came to realize that we have way more in common than just our names! Thanks for sharing your story!

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